Creating a Culture is Easier Than You Think

Tag is underrated.  There is no clear winner or loser and it plays in an endless loop. It’s a hallmark of Horse Boy and Movement Method work.

Many years ago, we added a feature to tag we call “New Rule.”

“New Rule” means that when you are tagged and you are “it” you have the chance to make a rule that everyone must follow.

Why is this important?

Because you put a disempowered child in power.

Naturally, he will abuse it.  Why wouldn’t he? It’s his chance to be powerful.  His new rule usually involves something humiliating for everyone else. You MUST follow that rule – with joy and silliness. Yes, I said silliness.  When we react with silliness we model resilience.

Soon, you or your staff is tagged and you will make a new rule. You make a kind one – or a generous one, – or you concede your chance and let the disempowered child  suggest another rule.  Maybe you manufacture a rule where everyone does something ridiculous together. You can give choices too. Each turn is played with laughter and tickles, falling on the ground and more laughter.

Naturally, one child will not get tagged. She’s too shy or too slow, and you bring her into the game (you model inclusiveness). One child is terrified of the energy and your next rule says that everyone must whisper and run in slow motion (you model sensitivity). Within minutes, you have created a culture where power is wielded with kindness ease and real inclusivity. Nuanced social skills are being modeled and natural reinforcement of kind behavior blooms without the taint of artificiality. If your child continues to be a tyrant in his rules – you follow them to the letter (you relieve the grip of shame and anger and very soon, he learns to make and have friends).

Earlier this month, our group posted articles saying the game of tag is being outlawed on school campus’.  It’s a reactionary approach. It’s a lost opportunity to model kindness and peaceful exchange of power and a chance to move and express ourselves in a way that is healthy for our bodies, for our senses and for our sense of self. However, it seems this is still allowed.

Yesterday, a child with a history of violence was brought into the game. The child with no school placement because of his acting out, a child diagnosed with social skills so low his family couldn’t eat in restaurants for years was inviting others into the game, making rules that were sweet and funny, recognized a child who wasn’t participating because she didn’t understand the game (a very complex social cue) and made special rules for her. When he stumped us with Pokemon trivia, he gently whispered clues to us. I can’t imagine a more successful day. He got a ton of exercise and sensory input with all the running and tagging and he was able to regulate in his transitions smoothly for the rest of the playdate.

By modeling a culture of delight, movement and sweetness – we got all we bargained for – and more.

Tag as education, swinging in hammocks and singing or isolation boxes – sounds like a no brainer to me.

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